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Monday, 1 July 2013

Mysterious Amarna Woman!!!!

I have been putting this rather tatty looking object on display today. I know other museums have better examples, but it is the only ring bezel belonging to the Amarna female king Nefernefruaten, which I could find in our collection.

A ring bezel is the decorative part of a ring. This object is made from faience (which is a bit like glass). This is one of several ring bezels we have with the name of Amarna kings upon them.

It has one of the several names of the king, more precisely, it shows the name which Egyptologists call the 'prenomen'. Only the nomen and the prenomen were written in cartouches. The prenomen was given to the king when he came to the throne.

So whose name is on this? The name reads as ‘Ankhkheperure-mery-Waenre’, which is the prenomen of Nefernefruaten. It means ‘Living are the forms of Re, who is beloved of the Sole one of Re’ (Ankhkheperure=Living are the Forms of Re; mery= beloved of; Waenre=Sole One of Re).
The identity of this person has long been disputed. That Neferneferuaten was a female king is suggested by the fact that sometimes the name is written to show it is a female form (it isn't here) and sometimes the name has the epithet ‘effective for her husband’. She has been variously identified as Smenkhare, Meritaten and Nefertiti, or even another wife of Akhenaten. The epithet ‘beloved of Waenre’ associated the person with Akhenaten as Akhenaten also had the title 'Waenre'. More recent scholarship suggests that Nefertiti is the most likely contender. Whoever she was, she was perhaps a coregent of Akhenaten and later Tutankhamun. 
The names of kings were written on items such as rings to give kingly protection to the wearer. 
The bezel was donated to the Egypt Centre in the 1970s from the British Museum. So thank you to the British Museum for perhaps a tatty looking but nonetheless interesting, object. Often the least pretty objects are the most intriguing.


  1. Very nice! I think that Rolf Krauss is right saying that the female king is Merit-Aten. Theres several objects with the name of that pharaoh in his book "Das Ende der Amarnazeit".

    Bets regards

    Christian Huyeng, editor of KBSAÄ

    1. Thank you Christian. I think the argument as to whom Nefernefruaten was will run and run.